Juvenile diabetes

The Delta Air Lines Foundation is donating $100,000 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Center for Islet Transplantation at Emory as part of the Foundation’s Youth Wellness initiative. Of the more than one million Americans who have Type 1 diabetes, most are diagnosed in childhood.

Yerkes grows

Yerkes National Primate Research Center broke ground in April for its new 92,000-square-foot, $27-million neuroscience building. The new facility is funded by federal, state, and University resources, including $4 million in National Institutes of Health grants and Georgia Research Alliance funds.

Autism center

The Emory Autism Resource Center, providing comprehensive services for children and adults with autism and their families, has opened on the Clairmont campus in a new 16,000-square-foot, $3.4-million building.

Beinecke Scholar

Emory junior Melanie Clouser has been selected as one of twenty-two college juniors across the country to receive a $32,000 Beinecke Scholarship for graduate study in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Clouser, an interdisciplinary and Middle Eastern studies major who is studying Arabic for her minor, plans to pursue a doctorate in Middle Eastern studies after she graduates. She works as a foreign language tutor in Arabic, Spanish, and French.




































































The “spiritual marriage” between Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet William Butler Yeats and political activist and actress Maud Gonne, a tender and tormented affair of the mind that lasted nearly half a century, unfolds in a collection of letters recently acquired by Special Collections of Emory’s Robert W. Woodruff Library. These four hundred letters–370 of Gonne to Yeats, and thirty of his to her, several of which have never been published–represent “the greatest correspondence of twentieth-century Irish literature,” says Goodrich C. White Professor of English Ronald Schuchard, an Irish literary scholar.

“The collection covers the whole drama of their relationship. It’s a correspondence of frustrated, unrequited love. It reflects Irish theater history, nationalist history–the whole history of Ireland is reflected in these letters.”

This addition, Schuchard says, makes Emory’s Irish literature collection “extraordinary. It is the best contemporary collection in the world. Nothing in Ireland compares.”

Yeats and Gonne met socially in 1889, sparking a connection that would surface in Yeats’ poetry and plays perhaps more than any other force in his life. With this meeting, he later wrote, “The troubling of my life began.” Two years later, he proposed to Gonne for the first of several times, each of which would be spurned. Gonne insisted marriage would dull his poetic genius.

The beautiful and fiery Gonne was a passionate Irish nationalist who stirred Yeats to become intensely involved in the literary political movement and the struggle for freedom from British rule. Gonne helped Yeats found the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and later acted in a play he wrote for her. They also shared a deep interest in mysticism and the occult and exchanged ideas about the possibilities of reincarnation and telepathic, spiritual ties. Some of Yeats’ most powerful poetry is known to be inspired by his acquaintance with Gonne, often in tandem with his study of classical tradition and Irish folklore.

Despite Yeats’ devotion, Gonne bore a child with French politician Lucien Millevoye, a boy who died before he was two; she later conceived a daughter, Iseult, with Millevoye. In 1903, Gonne married Irish Brigade Major John MacBride–a bitter time for Yeats. Yet the two remained friends, and when Gonne’s marriage became destructive and she and MacBride separated, it was Yeats who helped her recover. MacBride was executed in the aftermath of the Easter Rising of 1916.

After MacBride’s death, Yeats proposed to Gonne for the last time. He was again refused, and, in an unexpected twist, went on to propose to lovely, twenty-two-year-old Iseult, who also rejected him. Soon after, he married a young heiress, but he and Gonne continued to correspond until his death in 1938. Although many of Yeats’ letters to her were lost due to her nomadic lifestyle or destroyed when the Free State Police raided her Dublin home in 1922, much of their correspondence remained with Gonne’s family.

Schuchard and Emory curator of literary collections Stephen C. Ennis went to Ireland last year to meet with Anna MacBride White, Gonne’s granddaughter, and offer a place for the letters. White brought them out in boxes and allowed her visitors to spread the fragile paper out on a huge coffee table. She had approached the Irish National Library, but it didn’t have the resources to purchase and maintain the documents. They came to Emory last August in a large suitcase which arrived alone, as if carried by a ghost.

“We are the preservers, the protectors, of these letters,” Schuchard says. “It makes me immensely proud that Emory has the resources and the foresight to bring this material here. Many universities have put their resources into digitization, but truly great libraries do both. This is the real human material. The paper, the ink, can tell stories a reproduction can’t.”

The Yeats and Gonne letters enrich Emory’s considerable Yeats holdings, as well as broadening a collection of Irish material already noteworthy in its scope. In addition to the papers of historic literary figures, Emory has gathered what Schuchard calls a “living collection” of the work of living writers, including Seamus Heaney, the Nobel laureate who spoke at Emory Commencement this year, Derek Mahon, Ciaran Carson, and Paul Muldoon. Muldoon, whose archive of manuscripts and correspondence is housed at Emory, won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry this year.

Emory also hopes to create a new space dedicated to Special Collections in the future, Schuchard says.

“To be able to take students to Special Collections to see these manuscripts, to see the letters on their stationery, see programs of the plays Yeats wrote for Gonne–the students are in awe,” Schuchard says. “We are coming to an age where Special Collections are changing. They have traditionally been places of research that undergraduates were not invited to. Now Emory is leading the way in making Special Collections part of our teaching mission, not just our research mission. The idea is to bring students early to the feast.”–P.P.P.



© 2003 Emory University